Kali - Lots of Potential in Larchmont

#1

Space is just right: casual but classy…. which can also be said about the staff. They were very competent and attentive, providing insight into the menu items in a way that helped pick the right dish for each person. But not pushy, stuffy or overbearing.

Before getting into the food, it’s important to note a major plus here: personal service. Having Drew Langley on the floor, interacting with the guests is a tour de force of customer service. His subject knowledge is obvious, but he delivers it in an effortless comfortable way. This is probably not a surprise to anyone who’s dealt with him in the past. What was more of a surprise was another woman who appeared to be the floor manager. She was equally welcoming, and also effortless in ensuring guests were cared-for. It was beyond question that both of these professionals were doing what they do…. It was who they are. It was very refreshing.

Orange basil shrub – deep, haunting flavor. Much more interesting than any other non-alcoholic drink I’ve had in recent memory.

Snapper crudo w lemon foam, orange slices, candied orange. Fresh, light. Attractive visually and the foam kept the fish very moist, which in turn kept it very tender. I’ve had crudo recently where the fish was a little dried-out so the texture wasn’t great. This was not like that. Like mentioned, it’s a light starter for the heavier later dishes.

Wheat berry risotto in garlic tea with San Joachin Valley cheese. Garlic is fermented for 30 days, then made into a tea. The liquid is used to cook the risotto which gives it a very interesting taste and color. It’s a rich dish which tastes of gravy made with generous drippings of roasted meat. The skin of the wheat berries provides an interesting texture, keeping each of the berries distinct as the level of doneness was perfectly al dente. It was covered with a blackened disc of cheese from the San Joaquin valley which tasted of Parmesan, but we were told in no uncertain terms it was NOT parmesan. This dish tastes very rich, but the portion was perfect and not overwhelming. Here’s a picture of the risotto:

Intermezzo was a buttermilk rosemary bun, served with fresh salted butter and a few fresh rosemary leaves. The bread was very soft, and the soft salted butter matched it well.

Beef tenderloin was served over a burnt onion sauce alongside fingerling potatoes. The sauce made this dish. The deep flavor of the greatly reduced sauce brought out the flavor of the beef in a way that no cooking preparation could have accomplished. The beef was very tender, and well matched with the potatoes which lightened the strong flavor of the sauce.

Duck breast was dry aged a day before being dusted with coffee and roasted. This gave the firm skin and thin layer of fat a concentrated flavor which permeated the meat of the breast. The meat was moist, tender and flavorful, easy to cut and eat, and presented in a way that each bite contained some rich skin. It had an orange gelee over the top and three kinds of carrots, interestingly cooked to different levels by color. For example, the white carrots were barely cooked and almost crunchy, while the orange carrots were cooked to a softness and the purple carrots were in between the two. The different textures of the dish were very welcome and kept it interesting. One thing to note, though: I took a bite of a potato fingerling from the tenderloin dish about half way through the duck dish and it provided a nice starchy counterpunch to the duck and carrots. Here’s a picture of the duck:

Dessert was an almond panna cotta with persimmon sorbet a nutty crunch, rosemary meringue and geranium petals. It was delightful and capped-off a very enjoyable dinner. Here’s the dessert:

$140 with two drinks before tip. This place has the elements of success, and I plan to return.

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#2

Thanks for the pics & review Mikey! I’ve been trying to get over there since they opened.

Are they serving lunch yet? We usually end up at The Larchmont or Osteria Mamma when we do a sit-down work lunch within walking distance. It would be great to have another option.

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#3

This place is indeed quite promising, esp. the dessert menu.

And the expectations should be high, given the pedigree of Chef Meehan.

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#4

Thanks for the report. Just saw it mentioned in the LA Mag over the weekend. My keepsake snapshot

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#5

To answer my own question—yes they are! We ended up @ Kali today for lunch and all of us enjoyed it very much. As Mikey mentioned, the space is really nice and the service is very friendly, knowledgeable and personal. It was a great place for a business lunch.

There were 3 of us and we had:
soup of the day—asparagus/nettle w/ potato crisps. lovely presentation. the boss really liked it.
charred avocado–which was a salad w/ kale, charred avocado & pistachio. my coworker enjoyed it.
I had yellowfin w/ potato & black olive. the olive was a schmear around the sides of the bowl, I would have preferred actual olives (and maybe some capers) to brighten up the dish and give it a bit more kick. The fish was cooked beautifully.
For desert, we split strawberries with cream on a crumbly cake base (can’t remember what type) that was really tasty.
a couple glasses of sauvignon blanc for us girls and some bison grass vodka from poland on the rocks for the head honcho (which I had a sip of and was really good).

all-in-all it was a really enjoyable lunch in a nice space (the bench seats could be a bit more comfortable and reclining). I thought the food was good—the flavors were pretty subtle but balanced (I think they could be kicked up just a bit). The plating and presentation were very pretty. We will definitely return and put this into our rotation.

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#6

Will post details of dinner here later, but wanted to thank lilmikey for starting this thread. His pictures surely put mine to shame and I can’t always remember to take them unless you want a picture of an empty plate.

There’s alot going on here. Pretty much a food & wine geek’s wet dream. Buttermilk bread with cultured butter, house fermented black garlic with the killer wheat berry risotto, almonds blended into whey from the house-made ricotta, excellent shrub & kombucha, my cocktail had and was shaken with ice made from coconut water.

The $65 tasting menu is a good deal.

Ingredients are top notch: JJ Lone Daughter Avocado, McGrath, Kenter Canyon/Anson Mills, Straus Family, but he doesn’t paste it all over the menu.

Service was spot on. Kevin & Drew have created a jewel.

It’s the way I want to eat every day.

I :heart_eyes: Kali.

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#7

Sigh… why did they remove the squab from the menu? =(

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#8

(Named for the Hindu goddess?)

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#9

Anyone happen to know the corkage policy?

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#10

$20

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#11

Got a chance to stop by Kali for lunch, thanks for the reports by @lilmikey @LAgirl.

Kali is a subtle space along Melrose, around Larchmont. The interior is clean, sleek and understated. It was a relaxing dining room. Its name is a play on the California-centered menu (90% of all ingredients originate in California). Chef Kevin Meehan is an alum from Bastide and Patina and it shows in the menu. It’s classy, fantastically plated, and generally delicious.

Beet Tartar (Mustard Greens, Almond, Preserved Lemon):

Visually it’s playful and stunning. It looks like a “Beef Tartar” dish, even with the “Egg Yolk” on top. But upon closer inspection and biting into it, it’s clear that this a fresh Chopped Beet Salad LOL, earthy, delicious, with the Beets’ sweetness countered by the Preserved Lemon Sphere (definitely some molecular gastronomy here), and the slight bitterness but amazing vibrancy of the Mustard Green Frills. I’d say this is a true celebration of California produce. It was a fantastic salad! :slight_smile:

Asparagus and Nettle Soup (Chantilly, Potato Chip):

As @LAgirl said, it is a beautiful presentation because it starts out with the dry ingredients in the soup bowl, wonderfully and artfully presented, fresh California Asparagus, edible Flowers and a Housemade Chantilly Cream. They then pour in the pureed Asparagus and Stinging Nettle Soup over the ingredients.

This is a celebration of Asparagus and it is almost great: The Asparagus Soup is fresh and interesting, but the the Chantilly Cream is too tart. If they provided maybe 50% of the amount of that cream, it would’ve been spot-on, but with the full amount they provided the tartness started to overtake the Asparagus. It wasn’t bad (it was tasty), but undermined by the sour notes.

Cavatelli Pasta (Arugula, Creme Fraiche, Local Peppercorn):

Really delicious! :slight_smile: The Housemade Cavatelli Pasta had a more satisfying mouthfeel than Knead & Co’s version, but it was their subtle Creme Fraiche mixed with the Fried Arugula that elevated this dish. The Arugula was so delicious! Crisped, maintaining a touch of the inherent bitterness and the Peppercorns give it a nice little peppery punch. Wonderful! :slight_smile:

Pork Loin (Preserved Lemon, Celery, Salsify, Ash):

Stunning presentation! This dish looked like something belonging to a house of molecular gastronomy, perhaps of something from Noma. It turns out the stark obsidian “charred wood” on the plate was Salsify (the edible root from a wildflower), coated in Black Garlic “Ash”. While it looks scary, it was delicious! The Salsify has a heartier, meatier consistency and taste than a Potato, and the Black Garlic accentuated each bite.

The Pork Loin was perfectly cooked: Juicy, tender, delicate. Lean meat that was well seasoned, but still highlighted the Pork flavors.

One note about the service: It was outstanding for lunch! Utensils removed between each course. Professional, classy, something worthy of Patina or Providence! It was surprising and welcome.

Kali is one place I’d be glad to return to. I can’t wait to see what else Chef Meehan is cooking up.

Kali
5722 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Tel: (323) 871-4160

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#12

nice review as always!

pouring the soup from the “tea kettle” over the artfully arranged dry ingredients was a really nice touch. I like how they put a lot of thought into the visual presentation of the entire experience (food + space)—everything works well together.

(a funny side note—my co-worker was a little freaked out/put off by the pigs head in the glass dry age case when we walked in. She almost walked out. lol. I personally would have loved to have tried some of that, but it wasn’t on the menu….)

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#13

im curious about the “local peppercorn”.

is this the regular pepper we’re all used to? does that grow in california? anyone know?

many thanks.

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#14

California pepper tree develops these peppercorns. The outer shell is reddish pink. A little smaller in size than a BB.

Brazilian pepper trees are more common around here and produce a peppercorn that looks the same.

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#15

you learn something new every day.

do you know if it’s the same species of tree that produce
the more well known, “traditional” peppercorns of india and indonesia?

thanks.

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#16

Definitely different. The peppercorns from tropical zones are vines. They need the long hot sunny days and humid weather.

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#17

They just sell trees though? I wonder who drys and sells the peppercorns

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#18

Sourcing these pink peppercorns is easy. 99.999999999% never get used - these trees are very common here in SoCal. The peppercorns mature then fall off the trees by the thousands per tree.

Google “Brazilian Pepper Tree,” look at the images and I can almost guarantee that you will find at least one specimen somewhere in your neighborhood.

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#19

Yes, they really are everywhere! I was just curious if someone was packaging them for resale (to the restaurant or public) or if they were foraging

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#20

I have seen these peppercorns for sale, both in pepper blends and as a variety. I can’t recall exactly where but they are available.

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